How to achieve stability in this age of zero brand loyalty
No brand has consumers’ loyalty anymore. So, what should brands continue to do to achieve stable growth? Is disruption the only way forward?
The solution lies within the problem itself – behind a lack of consumer loyalty towards brands is a lack of brands’ loyalty toward, and investment in, its consumers.
Ours is a fast-moving, attention-deficit, hyper-personalized world where humans’ ability to deeply focus and reflect is hampered by the phenomena of “infobesity.” Brands face the huge challenge of navigating the unknown and treacherous terrain of human mind – a place where attention spans are approaching the range of the goldfish.
A recent study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark suggested that the collective global attention span has narrowing due to the huge amount of information that is being presented to the public. The study shows people now have more things than ever to focus on – and as a result, often focus on each thing for shorter periods of time.
This age of information overload demands that brands learn to think outside the box, push their boundaries, and create ideas that are not just a fresh take on the same-old – but instead challenge old ways of thinking to address evolving consumer needs.
Because there’s more behind the declining relevance of brands than shrinking attention spans. Today, consumers – however distractible they may be – are also more sophisticated than ever before, as technology has left them highly informed and exposed to all that the world has to offer. The internet allows them to buy anything they fancy from any corner of the world. Variety, convenience, and speed of service are transforming consumers into hyper evolved, impatient, and easily bored – but also savvy – digital goldfish.
To cultivate stable growth and long-term relationships with these new consumers, brands need to own ideas that constantly delight, inspire, and engage their audience.
One example of a brand that’s cracked the code is Huda Beauty, a beauty brand that began as a popular blog and is now valued at $1.2 billion. Its founder, Huda Kattan, has said, “It was never my plan to create something as big as Huda Beauty. But it became so important so quickly because I had an entire audience of people who were telling me what they wanted."
Huda Beauty was launched in 2013 with makeup products for eyes, face, and lips, developed based on the needs and wants of Kattan’s Instagram followers. The brand wasn’t merely responsive to consumers, it was innovative, too – redefining the word “nude” in the cosmetics world with eyeshadow palettes that contain unexpected “nude” shades ranging from deep berries to dusty coppers and fair pinks.
Similarly, Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee creates stories online instead of ads. Studies indicate 92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like a story. In response, Mukherjee has mastered the art of storytelling online to engage and delight his audience.
BRAND BUILDING ACTION POINTS
- Product innovation: Be a modern-day prophet. adidas has generated tremendous brand love and profits through understanding the needs of its environmentally conscious consumers. For example, adidas tackled the problem of marine plastic waste by partnering with the nonprofit Parley for the Oceans to create a line of footwear, adidas x Parley, that offers consumers real added value beyond the look, functionality, and quality of the product. “After one million pairs of shoes produced in 2017, and five million in 2018, we plan to produce eleven million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic in 2019,” an adidas executive recently told reporters.
- Brand partnerships: Worship the culture creators. Rihanna’s Fenty Puma Creeper, Footwear News’s shoe of the year for 2016, saw huge success and sold-out stock within weeks of its launch. PUMA CEO Bjorn Gulden stated, “The women’s business helps on the men’s side too. Rihanna opens the door.” Importantly, Rihanna is not only iconic star, but also a powerful culture influencer, with 73.3 million followers and potential customers on Instagram cheering on her crusade for greater inclusivity.
- Human psychology: Seduce the subconscious mind. Apple is the undisputed king of brand and consumer connections. Apple has created diverse experiences ranging from excitement, anticipation, and dopamine-induced euphoria for its “cult of addicts” by applying the principles of neurological connectivity. Neurological connectivity is achieved when a retailer, brand, or service creates a strong psychological and emotional responses that operate on a subconscious level for consumers in a way that is typically not readily understood nor recognized over the course of an advertisement or transaction.
- Social media strategy: Be a superstar on social media. Mere presence on social media is not enough for brands. Establishing a distinct voice and genuine love from followers defines the success of the brand online. Starbucks is an iconic coffee chain brand offline, but it is also one of the most successful brands online with statistics of 37.2 million Facebook likes, 11.9 million Twitter followers, 16 million Instagram fans, and 153,000 YouTube subscribers. The reason behind Starbucks’s popularity online is that the brand posts relevant content around latest products, popular drinks, and seasonal beverages in bright, colorful, and quirky images that are designed to appeal to its audience.